On Demand

Tips and techniques of the trade

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mousethief
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On Demand

#1 Post by mousethief » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:33 am

Lately, I've been getting requests - very few, thankfully - from some crossover dancers who want to hear certain things before they leave. Of course, it's almost always something that A) doesn't fit easily into the set and B) is not something I'm known to carry or spin.

No one ever comes up and asks for classic Basie, for example. Hell, they never ask for Basie at all, fragnabbit.

So, last Saturday it was...

DANCER
"Hey, my friend and I are leaving and I was hoping you could play something slower, so she can see that kind of dancing. You know, like 'Wade in the Water.'"

Note: This is about 20 minutes into the dance, just after a 2 hour beginning lindy hop workshop and a basic ECS class. And I've just played, "This Bitter Earth" by Laverne Butler, which I think is plenty slow for 9:15.

Anyone else getting these on demand requests? And how do you handle them?

Kalman

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GemZombie
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#2 Post by GemZombie » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:40 am

I get them all the time. I will generally honor the request, but at a time when I think I can fit it in, and not disrupt the flow completely.

mousethief
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#3 Post by mousethief » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:57 am

It's the immediacy of the request that's worrying me. I have no (well, almost none) problem with a "can you play X sometime tonight" or even "faster/slower" but the one hour or so deadline is insane.

And it's usually so they can leave early to go to another dance that's already playing something along the lines of their request.

Kalman

julius
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#4 Post by julius » Tue Feb 17, 2004 11:39 am

Three things occur to me.

1) Dancers don't actually know that DJs try to flow their music so it doesn't jar too much.

2) I have no problem with abrupt tempo changes. Live bands do it all the time.

3) I think it is slightly jarring to change musical genres abruptly, but not hugely so. Live bands don't generally do this.

Who the hell invented the concept of DJing flow? Why does it exist?

mousethief
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#5 Post by mousethief » Tue Feb 17, 2004 11:45 am

Man, I love to switch tempo on a dime. Anything else and it feels like I'm just cruising all night, which sucks.

Even so, I like to build energy for the fast stuff.

Kalman

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#6 Post by ScottieK » Tue Feb 17, 2004 11:46 am

I get this all the time and I feel little obligation to play a request if a timeline is put on it. Heck I'm more likely to get a request played quickly if someone just writes the request down on a piece of paper (yes, I provide the paper and pen because I have a terrible memory) and just askes nicely.

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#7 Post by GemZombie » Tue Feb 17, 2004 12:26 pm

julius wrote:Three things occur to me.

1) Dancers don't actually know that DJs try to flow their music so it doesn't jar too much.

2) I have no problem with abrupt tempo changes. Live bands do it all the time.

3) I think it is slightly jarring to change musical genres abruptly, but not hugely so. Live bands don't generally do this.

Who the hell invented the concept of DJing flow? Why does it exist?
While I agree with your problems with that definition of flow, I still stick to the fact that injecting a lame song in the middle of a bunch of good stuff, might not go over well with the crowd.

I dont' care about changing genres or tempos, that's just the way it works... but playing a lame ass song in the middle of a bunch of awesome music when the energy level is high can really destroy a mood. That's the flow i'm talking about... mood and energy levels.

Sometimes there's a way to put the request in at a place where it won't kill the mood. That's the real trick and talent. :)

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#8 Post by julius » Tue Feb 17, 2004 12:51 pm

oh, sure, i agree, the music should always be good. i think it's better to play something not lame that is similar to the lame request, but that involves figuring out what the request is really about. does the person just want a slower song? a bluesier one? a barnburner? does the song have special meaning to them?

i guess my observations are more about general DJing style than requests.

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#9 Post by gatorgal » Tue Feb 17, 2004 1:02 pm

I usually get two kinds of "on demand" requests...

1. Play something faster (no comments from the peanut gallery please)

2. Play a west coast/cha cha/salsa/foxtrot/etc.

Number one doesn't bother me at all... I usually ask if they have a particular song/artist in mind (they usually don't) and I try to play the request as soon as I can without disrupting the flow that I have. That's usually not hard at all.

Number two is really beginning to bother me though. We live in freakin' South Florida where there are a gazillion places to hear salsa, ballroom and latin music! It annoys me to no end when some of our dancers do that. I either 1) tell them that I plan to stick to format for my set or 2) play something that could appease folks who want to cha cha and lindy or whatever. Since that's really hard to do, I usually end up doing #1.

On a side note... one of our other DJs got a request from a newbie for the Electric Slide. Not sure which was worse... that he played or that I had it. :)

Tina 8)
"I'm here to kick a little DJ a$$!"
~ Foreman on That 70s Show

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#10 Post by ScottieK » Tue Feb 17, 2004 2:01 pm

I get requests for Salsa and and such. I usualy refer them to venue's Calendar which has a Salsa night on Thursday and tell them that tonight is Swing dancing night and that I don't have any Salsa (I don't use other people's CD to DJ unless their friends of mine) to play.

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wheresmygravy
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#11 Post by wheresmygravy » Tue Feb 17, 2004 3:13 pm

gatorgal wrote:snip...

Number two is really beginning to bother me though. We live in freakin' South Florida where there are a gazillion places to hear salsa, ballroom and latin music! It annoys me to no end when some of our dancers do that. I either 1) tell them that I plan to stick to format for my set or 2) play something that could appease folks who want to cha cha and lindy or whatever. Since that's really hard to do, I usually end up doing #1.

snip
"Walking with Zach" Gene Harris. Gets the latin and the lindy hoppers.

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#12 Post by kitkat » Tue Feb 17, 2004 10:23 pm

Even live swing bands will throw something in every once in a while that doesn't work for lindy, I imagine just to see if people can still dance to it.

I think of all the meringues I was sorting through in my Bechet recordings, or of the Latin or foxtrot tunes I've danced to at the Times in Minneapolis...

If we're supposed to take the place of a live band, then though I don't condemn refusing to play other genres of dance, I also don't think there's anything wrong with playing one or two songs of another sort in a night. I'll bet no one ever said a band at the Savoy sucked because they played a kicking cha-cha tune. Sometimes lindy hoppers like to see if they can still do salsa every once in a while but don't like it enough to spend hours at a salsa club.

However, now that I think about it, you should try to keep your rhythm diversions within whatever your style is, if you're modeling off replacing a band. Bechet's meringues were still pretty jazzy.

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Lawrence
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#13 Post by Lawrence » Tue Feb 17, 2004 11:09 pm

GemZombie wrote:While I agree with your problems with that definition of flow, I still stick to the fact that injecting a lame song in the middle of a bunch of good stuff, might not go over well with the crowd.
Yes, you should definitely play several "less lame" songs to ease in and out of the REALLY lame material and not ruin the "flow." :lol:
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#14 Post by Lawrence » Tue Feb 17, 2004 11:10 pm

julius wrote:Who the hell invented the concept of DJing flow? Why does it exist?
It's certainly not new to us. I've paid attention to it since I recorded "mix tapes" long before I ever learned how to dance, no less DJ'ed for a dance. My inspiration probably were Rock albums of the 70s and 80s whose songs were well organized into a good "flow" so that the whole album ended up being better than the sum of its parts, as opposed to the complete absence of "flow" on, say, "greatest hits" albums or many modern albums. U2's Joshua Tree is perhaps an archtype example of a well-organized album that has a great "flow." Even the somewhat individually-lame songs are great when placed in the context of the entire album.
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#15 Post by Nate Dogg » Wed Feb 18, 2004 1:56 am

Lawrence wrote:
julius wrote:Who the hell invented the concept of DJing flow? Why does it exist?
U2's Joshua Tree is perhaps an archtype example of a well-organized album that has a great "flow." Even the somewhat individually-lame songs are great when placed in the context of the entire album.
That is crazy talk. No U2 songs are lame, especially the songs on the Joshua Tree.

Some recent U2 news for those that care, they just went into the studio to record the new album, Steve Lillywhite is going to be the producer. :D

Nathan

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